Summer and health 2018: Protection against heat

A prolonged exposure to high temperatures leads to failure of the body’s temperature control system. There is risk of dehydration, aggravation of chronic illness and heat stroke.

It mainly affects people over 65 living alone, dependent people in their daily life (with memory disturbances, behavioural disorders, impaired sense of direction) people with chronic diseases (diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular or respiratory illnesses), people taking medication (diuretics, antihypertensives, antidepressants), people with fever o acute conditions, with difficulty of adapting to heat, and infants and under-five.

Other situations that increase rhe risk: loneliness, social isolation; dwelling difficult to cool or lack of cooling systems; intense physical activity and jobs where there is exposure to heat.

Please, stop all activity for some hours, get into a cool area and rest, drink water or fruit juice

Protect yourself from heat:

  • Avoid going out and activities during the hottest time of the day; particularly physical activities, such as sports, gardening, DIY….
  • If you are going out, stay out of the sun, wear a hat and light, loose-fitting clothes made of cotton and carry a water bottle
  • Close the sun facing windows and curtains.
  • As long as it is hotter outside than inside, keep windows closed. At night, open the window and get the air circulating
  • Stay in the coolest rooms in your home
  • If you don’t have any in your home, spend time in air-conditioned locations such as shopping mall, public library….
  • Take as many showers as you want to when you feel hot. Apply cool wet clothes to your body

Food and drink:

  • Drink as much as possible, even if you don’t feel thirsty. Water, at room temperature and not too cold is the best option. Fruit juices, milk, cold soups or “gazpacho” help us to keep hydrated
  • Avoid alcohol and caffeinated drinks as they increase the loss of fluids from the body
  • Eat as you normally would but try to eat cold foods, particularly salads and fruits.  Eat small regular meals throughout the day
  • Avoid hot foods and heavy meals

If you are taking certain medication (for blood pressure, heart, depression….) you should contact a healthcare professional to prevent problems in case of high temperatures. Follow the instructions given on the packaging concerning the maintenance or by your physician

Heatstroke is a condition caused by your body overheating, usually as a result of prolonged exposure to high temperatures. In extreme heat, the body may not be able to sufficiently dissipate the heat and the body temperature rises dramatically

Symptons of heat stroke can include:

  • Red, hot and dry skin
  • Headache, nausea, intense thirst
  • Confusion, agitation and loss of conciousness
  • Irritability

Athletes, outdoor workers, infants, the elderly, disabled people and chronic patients are the groups at greatest risk for heat stroke.

If you think a person may be experiencing heatstroke, seek immediate medical help. Call your local emergency services number. While waiting for emergency treatment: move him to a cooler location, get him to drink plenty of water, apply cool wet clothes to his body and fan him.

An excessive and prolonged sun exposure (on the beaches, in the mountains or swimming pools) is harmful and can cause skin damages in a short, medium or long term. Some of the negative effects that can result from spending too much time in te sun can include: rashes, erithema, various degrees of sunburn and the dreaded skin cancer.

Remember:

  • Expose yourself to the sun in moderation, gradually, and always taking walks and avoiding sunbathing in the middle of the day
  • Avoid prolonged sun exposure and use sunscreen. Apply sunscreen 30 minutes before going outside, and be sure to reapply it every two hours, or after coming out of the water or using a towel to dry up
  • Limit sun exposure to children under de age of 3 years and get them to drink water regularly
  • The sun’s rays are reflected by the water, sand and snow, increasing their effects on the skin. While mountain climbing, the risk of sunburn is greater
  • Take frequent breaks in the shade and spray you with cool water
  • Drink water regularly to prevent dehydration
  • Sunglasses prevent eye diseases
  • Wear loose-fitting clothing, preferably cotton, and a hat or cap

In summer, we spend most of our time away from our usual place of residence, so we are most at risk of accidents because we go to unfamiliar places or spaces when hiking or at the beach or on the mountain.

Particular emphasis should be place on the adequacy of the property called “second home” or “rental housing” in the summertime

Summer is also the season we travel the most; so, we should be extremely careful with the follow-up of advices and security measures when driving, cycling or walking

Likewise, the heat, so common during this season, involves inherent risks. It is therefore necessary to learn about and meet preventive measures for our safety and health and that of our family

Road acccidents:

Here is some helpful advice for staying safe on our journeys, not just in sumer but all year:

  • Make sure children use the age and size-appropriate car safety seat or booster seat. Children under 135 cm tall, must be in an child safety seat.
  • Be specially careful with inappropriate footwear (flip-flops or high-heels that may cause problems with the pedals
  • If you need to look at a map or programme your navigation system, stop in a safe parking area
  • Rear central seat is the safest, particularly in the event of side-impacts
  • Activate childproof door locks and ensure your child always keeps arms, legs and head inside the car
  • Secure loose items in the vehicle interior. Any loose object in the car can fly in a crash and increase the risk of injury
  • Never leave children unattended in cars, even if only for a short time. Children may easily get heat stroke
  • The use of helmet is mandatory when cycling or motorcycling

Drowning and dips in swimming pools, sea, lakes, rivers,…

  • Drowning is a frequent cause of death in summer. It is the second leading cause of death in children aged 1-4 years and most drownings occur in residential swimming pools
  • Install pool safety fences. Child safety locks can be fitted to pool fencing in order to make a pool area safer.
  • Use certified flotation devices and never let children without adult supervision, no matter whether they’re at the beach, in your household pool or in a public pool
  • It is very important have children to learn to swim at a very young age (as early as possible). This would avoid risks in the event of accidental falling into a pool
  • In public swimming pools and on the beaches make sure there’s a lifeguard and listen to his or her instructions
  • Don’t allow any kind of dangerous activity in the water. Children shouldn’t run or push around the pool and should never dive head first into the water
  • Try to bath in places which are supervised. Stay clear of areas marked with buoys for water sports, as you could be hit by a boat or a water scooter
  • If you have any unusual symptom like neck or headache, chills, dizziness, itchiness, cramps… leave the water immediately and try to find a lifeguard to get help

What to do in case of accident/emergency

Dial 112 to get help, which is the single emergency telephone number for the UE. This number will get you access to any emergency service wherever you are in the UE

This number is free of charge and available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. You can call 112 from any type of phone.

  • Remain calm and answer all the questions the operator asks. A specially trained operator will answer you
  • Describe exactly what is happening, not what appears to be hapening
  • Report the location/ address of the emergency or accident as accurately as possible
  • Gather as much information as possible on medical history, any medication the patient may be taking, time elapsed since initiation of the reason for the call, etc…
  • Give any further details: the approximate age, gender..
  • Don’t hang up until told to do so: they may help you or need you to provide more information of importance

Insect bites are vey common in summertime, particularly at dusk and at night. In Andalusia, there is a great diversity of species of mosquitoes living in our wetlands, both natural and artificial, throughout the entire Andalusian geography, sharing habitats with birds that can have autochtonous or imported virus from countries they visit during their migration.
At present, there is evidence of the presence of some viruses in mosquitoes and birds from different areas of the Community. Thus, the following preventive measures are recommended:

  • Apply insect repellent and wear long sleeved shirts and pants if you are going out at dusk or night
  • At home, window screens and electronic mosquito repellents can help us
  • Turn off lights when you don’t need them, as mosquitoes are attracted to light. Stay awway from areas where mosquitoes breed
  • Remember: It is very important to clean up all those areas of standing water in containers like swimming pools, fountains, sink…or any other thing that can collect water like plant pots, old tires, buckets, toys …

In the event of an insect bite:

  • If the insect is still in the skin, remove it
  • In the case of a tick: a fine-tipped tweezers is the best way to remove it. Gently grasp the tick’s head as close to the skin as possible and pull firmly steadily upward
  • Bees and wasps: Sometimes the stinger may be left in the skin. To remove it, scrape over the stinger using a flat edge or your finger nail. Don’t be tempted to squeeze the sting or to try and remove it with tweezers
  • Wash the area of the bite with soap and water
  • Place a cold compress or ice pack on the area for a few minutes to help reduce pain
  • An analgesic, such as paracetamol, may also be taken if appropriate
  • If swelling is severe, rest your arm or leg on a comfortable surface for some time
  • Don’t scratch the skin to prevent the infection from worsening
  • Don´t use any histamine cream on your own and don´t hesitate to seek medical assistance if necessary

It is difficult to detect the presence of jellyfishes since most of them are transparent. We must be careful with the information provided by authorities and lifeguards about the jellyfishes presence. Some beaches display a jellyfish warning flag, together with the traditional red, yellow or green flags indicating bathing sea condition.

The tentacles of jellyfish contain cells that can hurt you if you come in contact with them. If you’re stung by a jellyfish, you’ll feel severe pain immediately and develop an itchy rash and welts (raised, circular areas on the skin) where the tentacles have touched you.

What if you get stung by a jellyfish?

  • Get out of the water immediately
  • Wash the skin with salt water or physiological saline solution. Never use fresh water, which could make it worse
  • Use tweezers to pull off any tentacles srill on your skinAny remaining tentacles should be removed using tweezers
  • Place a cool cloth during 15’. Don’t rub the affected area with a towel or sand.
  • See the lifeguard next. He or she may be able to help us with certain pain relievers if appropriate. If the symptons are serious, seek  medical care.